New regulations for 2020 local government elections

COUNCIL ELECTIONS

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A new set of rules and regulations for Councillors has been introduced by the Queensland Government in the lead up to local government elections next year.


The new regulations include Compulsory training for Councillors and candidates and real-time disclosure of electoral donations.

The reforms are contained in the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the reforms are aimed at maintaining the integrity of local governments.

“Mandatory training was one of a number of recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra Report,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“It requires all candidates at Local Government elections, including sitting Councillors, to undertake training as a condition of their nomination.

“This is about ensuring candidates having a strong understanding of their obligations, both during an election campaign and as a councillor once elected."

The Bill also mandates full preferential voting for mayoral and single councillor elections, to be effective for the 2020 local government election.

“This aligns voting methodologies with State and Federal elections and helps to avoid voter confusion,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“It ensures every vote counts, electing the candidate preferred by a majority of voters, and is thus inherently more democratic.

“We’ve consulted widely on these and other proposed reforms to ensure that Queenslanders are better represented by their local Councils.”

Other reforms introduced with the bill include:

  • requiring candidates to disclose particular interests as part of their nomination as a candidate, including membership of a political party;
  • prohibiting candidates and groups of candidates from using credit cards to pay for campaign expenses;
  • requiring candidates to provide details about dedicated campaign bank account when nominating;
  • providing more certainty and clarity to councillors by refining the processes to manage a conflict of interest - including introducing prescribed conflicts of interest;
  • requiring further information around declaring gifts and donations;
  • removing powers of Mayors in relation to budgets, the appointment of senior executive employees, and the issuing of directions to the chief executive officer and senior executive employees; and
  • introducing new requirements relating to councillors’ registers of interests to align with the requirements applying to State MPs.


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